St. Matthew, Bethnal Green

As therapy for the New Year, I took myself on an unplanned walking tour of Bethnal Green.   I started at St. Matthew’s, the parish church, which was originally planned to be one of the Fifty Churches designed by Hawksmoor.   But the parishioners objected to the cost and the Rector of Stepney didn’t want to lose his income from tithes.   Instead, a more modest church was commissioned from George Dance Senior.   Work started in 1743, but funds were inadequate.   An Act of Parliament provided funds on the grounds of the ‘dissoluteness of morals and a disregard for religion, too apparent in the younger and poorer sort’.   In the 1850s, the interior was destroyed by fire and, again, by Hitler.   It was reconstructed in the 1950s by Antony Lewis of Tapper and Lewis with work commissioned from young artists.   It’s a good example of 1950s ecclesiasticism:-

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This is the screen by Peter Snow:-

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